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Will electric welder screw up my electronics?


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I've got a Lincoln electric welder (smaller version) and want to do some welding in the trunk area of my '91 Camaro. Do I need to take any precautions in order to protect the computer(s) in the car?

What about newer cars in the late '90s?

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I have welded on many a car with no problems but I will tell you a story.

We were sponsored a really neat racing alternator that had the windings built into the water pump and the magnets were in the pulley.

It has an external regulator and the instructions clearly pointed out that if any welding was to be done to remove the regulator from the car.

I was driving for a team the was based behind the walls of the Oregon State penitentiary. The inmates would maintain the car and I would pick it up and race it on the weekends then I would bring it back then go inside to work with the team during the week. (obviously the best ride I ever had)

Some of those cons claimed to know more about that alternator than the manufacturer and we had to replace the regulator EVERY time the car got welded on.

So, back to real life, this was a very special alternator and needed attention if there was to be welding.

It was also the only times that I have ever had any problems with welding on any car.

For more info google up the 'Highwallers racing team' It has been shut down by the bureaucracy now but was the most successful activity ever at OSP.

There are a couple of ex con friends of mine that we hope will be featured by some film crew that doesn't seem to have any money to finish the project, but all of the memorabilia (trophies, pictures , etc.) from the joint was given to the ex cons that are still trying to tell the story about the team. They even have one of the old race cars that was built inside. I think they have a facebook page as well.

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On a computerized car I doubt whether you're ever "far away from the computer"...

My brother had one of the early computerized Cads...he thought the trunk light was too dim, backed it out of the garage, let the engine run to warm it up, cut the trunk light wire to splice in a brighter light, and the engine died...had to splice the trunk light wire back together to get it running again...

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Disconnect the battery ground, as you are doing, and connect the welders ground as close to your weld as possible to minimize the path/magnetic field. for example if you welded on the intake and connected the welding ground to the cars' frame then the path from ground to the weld point would go through engines' bearings etc. I realize you are welding in the trunk etc I was giving you an extreme example.

I'd also be unplugging whatever electronics i could get to, it may be overkill but I had to replace a guys' tachometer on a racecar i welded on once and since then i am very cautious. When you strike the arc there is a huge magnetic pulse generated, who knows what it'll affect.

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On a computerized car I doubt whether you're ever "far away from the computer"...

My brother had one of the early computerized Cads...he thought the trunk light was too dim, backed it out of the garage, let the engine run to warm it up, cut the trunk light wire to splice in a brighter light, and the engine died...had to splice the trunk light wire back together to get it running again...

Yep, The computerized stuff is run by ghosts.

How would the average guy diagnose a no start to a burned out trunk light?

There is a thread in general discussion that asks what cars from the 90s will be popular in 50 years.

NONE !!!!

No one will be able to make them run.

Edited by JACK M (see edit history)
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  • 2 weeks later...

A very thought provoking thread. Some thing to think about no matter what vehicle you are welding on .Although it wasn't a welding situation. ... A bad ground cable burned a speedometer cable in half on my motorhome.

It reminds me of the time my 61 VW crank pulley came loose from the hub. A local ship maintenance shop said they could weld it back on so I wouldn't have to replace it. The welder hooked the ground lug to the rear bumper. The next day my main bearings failed. OUCH! Crank was blue..

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Modern repair shops when welding on computer equipped cars have a device that is connected to the pos and neg battery terminals. The circuitry within it isolates current spikes from the electronics. It also keeps the computer memory alive instead of being lost if the battery were disconnected. The device goes by different trade names, none of which I can recall. Snap-on, Mac, and Cromwell tool distributors carry them.

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